Making Technology Work for You
- By Alison Coyne
- Nov 01, 2011
Someone asked me the other day, “What in the world is this
little black-and-white square in the lower corner of this electronics
brochure, and what do I do with it?” Before I even had
a chance to respond, two other people instructed him on what to do.
Quick Response Codes, also known as QR Codes, were first used in
the automotive industry to track parts. These days, they are popping
up for complex rehab products in ads and brochures, linking you to a
manufacturer’s Web site or a site like YouTube for a more detailed look
at a product or service. Over the past decade, the application of a QR
code has evolved from an inventory role to one in marketing, targeting
smart-phone users across the world.
Mere Seconds to Get Someone’s Attention
While smart-phone users are the primary targets, where consumers
are directed is even more critical. With the constant influx of information
and demands on our attention these days, you have mere
seconds to capture someone’s attention and hopefully infl uence their
behavior. Manufacturers and providers alike are also now targeting
social networking sites, like Facebook, to place banner ads that
encourage a user or caregiver to click on a colorful ad to learn more
about a product and subsequently link them to a company or product
As a result of increased Internet traffic, and because of
marketing strategies like QR codes and popular social network
sites, it is critical that your Web site is user friendly, informative
and more client-focused than ever before. This could mean simple
improvements, like including testimonials, or more substantive
ones, like easier navigation.
On the manufacturing side, as a whole, we are racing to embrace
the latest in technology, which starts with Web site designs that lead
to more efficient and helpful means to do business and help you to
gather clinical information quickly. Consumers in general are more
Internet savvy today, thanks to advancements in technology, and
whether being driven to a Web site via a marketing strategy or not,
most consumers are researching and even shopping from the comforts
of their own home. This leads to knowledgeable consumers who know
what they want or are armed with questions, and ultimately drives
both manufacturers and providers to keep up with the growing trends
of the Internet era.
Learning from Other Industries
I am no exception, having jumped on the bandwagon of doing online
research for many recent purchases, including a new car. There are very
few things that I dislike more than shopping for a new car. The end
result of having the new car is great, but the process of buying one can
be tedious and frustrating. From test driving to picking the best options
to negotiating, it is hard to stay focused on the positive end result. The
Internet, however, puts some of the fun back into this process, as the
automotive industry caters to online
shoppers with their flashy Web
sites, wealth of information and
user-friendly configurators, making
the process much less painful and
maybe even enjoyable.
As we all look to improve our
use of technology, there is much
we can learn from other industries
and what they are doing successfully.
The automotive industry is one
such example. What struck me most
from my recent car search was their
use of online configurators. At least
one of the dreadful chores of buying a
car can be done from the sofa in your
living room, any day of the week at
any time of the day. You can have an idea of what you want and how it
will look without ever stepping foot in a showroom.
Just like the evolution and adaptation of QR codes, our industry may
not be too far off from what automobile manufacturers offer with their
Web sites. Interactive capabilities, 360° demos and video clips are just
the beginning of where many of us have gone and where others are
headed in terms of Web site function and design.
We are all looking for ways to improve and use technology to our
customer’s advantage. Speaking from one manufacturer’s perspective,
we are embracing it in the online ordering and quoting process a la
the automotive industry, and now offer a Visual Configurator. Equally
as convenient and efficient for a provider as a car configurator is for
consumers, the Visual Configurator allows you to research and essentially
shop online, like you would for any consumer product, for the
right options and accessories for your clients.
The clinical needs for the user come first, which can be a challenge
in the constantly changing reimbursement world. Certainly, selecting
car components or shopping for a new digital camera online is a much
simpler task than choosing complex rehab components, but this makes
it all the more important to ensure those using complex rehab products
have exactly what they want and need. Think of the possibilities of
seeing all of the available options and accessories for a Group 3 power
chair or a K0005 ultralightweight manual wheelchair right before your
eyes. Simplifying the online ordering process of complex rehab products
is just one of the many technological advancements you are going
to see in the future from manufacturers.
While I do not have a crystal ball, I’m pretty sure the Internet is
not going anywhere. We are all reliant on computers, smart phones
and tablets to run our ever complicated lives, every day. Embracing
these as opportunities and avenues to reach and arm our customers
is the future.
This article originally appeared in the November 2011 issue of Mobility Management.
Alison Coyne is a marketing specialist for the rehab business unit at Invacare Corp.